The Moral High Ground

I watched a discussion this evening about manipulation. The dominant opinion was that any form of manipulation is bad, without regard to situation or the people involved. Thus, this was the ‘moral high ground’ opinion of the discussion. While others argued that there was more to this debate than a clear cut, black and white wrong or right answer. But since this was the minority opinion being held up for examination and was found lacking, the moral high ground was victorious in the debate, even though no opinions were really changed by the conversation. But I will come back to this later on in the discussion.

Lets look at some definitions:

Moral High Ground: A position or point of view which is ethically superior or more reputable, in comparison to others which are under consideration.

Moral High Ground: If people have/take/claim/seize, etc, the moral high ground, they claim that their arguments, beliefs, etc, are morally superior to those being put forward by other people.

An Empath is a person who has an acute or highly developed sense of empathy. Empathy is the capability to share your feelings and understand another’s emotion and feelings, which is often characterized as the ability to “put oneself into another’s shoes”.

The Moral High Ground

It is very easy to take the Moral High Ground in any given situation. But what this means is that you place yourself above others in order to judge them, based on their thoughts, ideals and opinions. And in judging, if you find their responses lacking in any way, you attempt to correct their wrong way of thinking, by overlaying the wrong thinking with what you deem to be the right way of thinking.

It is easy, in theory, to come up with black and white, clear cut moral and ethical ideals. But during day to day interactions, how often do they truly get applied? It is much more difficult to put into practice, than into theory. So it is very easy to claim the moral high ground as one’s own, during a debate, and harder still to put into practice. This is because life is not black and white. Nor is it clear cut. Life is a vast series of grays where in, people make choices, both good and bad, which affect the world around them, as much as themselves.

Now, we come back to our example of the discussion on manipulation. When you put this in context with the moral high ground within a discussion on manipulation, where certain people declare that any form of manipulation is bad, you end up with something interesting. You end up with people enacting the very thing they are disclaiming. Because to attempt to force the moral opinion that manipulation is bad on others who do not see it in the same way is, in itself, a form of manipulation. This is because manipulation means: keep in line, control (others or oneself) or influence skillfully or shrewdly, usually to one’s advantage. So in trying to convince others to see the same way they do, they are attempting to manipulate other people by orienting the conversation toward their point of view.

The Empathic Moral High Ground

The thing about empathy that most people often times dismiss is that it begs the person, who is expressing empathy, to understand the person they are offering empathy to, without judgment and/or prejudice. And this can not be done from the moral high ground. Because to truly understand another person, one can not look down on them, from the moral high ground, and offer them empathy at the same time. You must stand side by side with them, as equals, to truly grasp where they are coming from.

And that is a key component to being an Empath. It says it right in the definition of empathy: the capability to share your feelings and understand another’s emotion and feelings, which is often characterized as the ability to “put oneself into another’s shoes”. When you are able to put yourself in another’s shoes and understand another’s emotion and feelings, you have the capacity to offer empathy. And this can’t be done from the moral high ground, as you look down on those you see as having negative or differing view points to your own.

The most the other person can hope for in that scenario is pity, not empathy. But more often than not, they end up with judgment, prejudice, and derision. And that helps no one.

Another point to mention, about the moral high ground, is that when one takes this stance, they close themselves off to other ideas, which may or may not be of equal value to their own. They stop the learning process and stagnate their own growth.

The Moral Empath

There is a difference between someone who takes the moral high ground in discussions and someone who follows their own moral/ethical code. A moral person knows right from wrong. And the person who stands atop the moral high ground, tends to believe that everyone else should share their personal moral set. A moral person lives by their moral credo, enacting it in daily life and in every interaction they have. While the person who claims the moral high ground as their own, tends to have problems practicing what they preach.

A Moral Empath almost never sets out to hurt, manipulate, or use others. That should be understood as a given. But its not most of the time, particularly when those who take the moral high ground feel their opinions being threatened.

So find your moral and ethical beliefs. Live by them. And do the best you can with what you’ve been given. And leave the moral high ground to those who have yet to find their own way. Because there is always more than one way to view a situation. And there are many different moral/ethical beliefs that are of equal value, even when they differ from our own. ^_^


~ by Misuchi Sakurai on October 3, 2009.

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